Herbaceous Perennials

All through the winter like most of you I’ve been looking at bare, rather untidy patches of ground where my herbaceous perennial plants lay dormant. I’ve had my spring clean up getting rid of the weeds; these harbour pests, diseases and give competition for water. I love the little Dog Violets that grow freely everywhere but last year I came home from work finding most of them wilted and covered in ‘rust’ so although I enjoy seeing them I’m keeping their numbers down, just in case.

Now these areas are beginning to fill out and green up, there are nodding bell-shaped flowers of Fritillaria meleagris, red flowers of Pulsatilla vulgaris ‘Rubra’ also known as Pasque flower, and bright yellow Primula auriculas. The lupines, campanulas and aquilegias have self-seeded giving me lots of free plants and a lucky dip of colours to transplant wherever I want them. I’ve already transplanted some of the aquilegias into my wildlife garden.

The perennials that I’m looking forward to the most are the bearded irises. These are the ‘show offs’ of my garden, having big, beautiful blousy flowers, I can’t imagine any sunny perennial border not having a few. At the end of last summer I dug some up to divide, cutting the leaves into short V shaped fans so that they wouldn’t rock about in the wind, it also reduces water loss after planting. I replanted them so that their rhizomes were laying at the surface so as to get plenty of sunshine.

Each year they get better and I’m already checking them out to see if I can work out how many flowers I’m going to have this year. Well I have said before that I’m an impatient gardener! My favourites are Iris ‘Blue Shimmer’ and ‘Carnival Time’ The first has wonderful blue speckled flowers with white falls that are edged with blue, scented too. The latter is a beautiful vibrant mix of oranges. The flowers do get heavy and it’s best to use some short green canes to support each flower stem before the flowers open so as not to damage them.